It is important to examine historical air temperature changes over multiple decades to assess the current state of western Washington’s natural habitat. Presented above are 30-year averages of daily minimum and maximum air temperatures by month for major watersheds on the Olympic Peninsula. It is important to note that not all localities respond the same to climate change and even small variations in average temperatures can have large impacts on snowpack, stream flows, and natural habitats.
Local climate varies greatly from global climate. Temperature trends are different in some areas than in others. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are close to the Pacific Ocean which can have a cooling effect on the region. As such, we have so far experienced less warming than other parts of the world (e.g., the Arctic). In the next several decades, however, this is likely to change. See the Projected Conditions page for more information.
These plots are based on data derived from the publically available Livneh et al. (2013) 1/16-degree historical air temperature grids. These grids span the years 1950 to 2010 and are extrapolated from station data at approximately 20,000 NOAA cooperative observer weather stations throughout the contiguous United States. The air temperatures have been averaged over the watershed area to produce watershed-scale climatologies.
Not all of these watersheds are part of the PNPTC study area. These figures are for illustration purposes only and are not to be used in any reporting, research, or decision making. For more information regarding datasets or data usage, please contact the PNPTC.
Mean sea level: Friday Harbor
Mean sea level: Port Townsend
The world’s average sea level is rising due largely to melting glacier ice and to thermal expansion of the oceans due to warmer water temperatures. Even moderate rises in sea level can increase coastal erosion, degrade coastal habitat, and increase the risk of flooding.
It is important to understand how local sea level rise differs from global sea level rise. Many places in western Washington are experiencing land subsidence which compounds the effects of sea level rise, increasing the potential damage and loss of habitat. Other areas are experiencing land uplift which, if fast enough, can offset the rate of sea level rise. Thus, local sea level rise can be complex and can vary drastically over relatively small areas. In Washington State, we experience both of these scenarios but the Hood Canal and Puget Sound areas are mostly seeing land subsidence rather than uplift and are therefore experiencing a rise in local sea level. For more information about the current local sea level trends, see the “Links” section of this website.
These data are publicly available annual mean sea levels as measured at the Friday Harbor (#9449880) and Port Townsend (#9444900) gauges and were originally downloaded from NOAA’s Tides and Currents website, developed and supported by the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS). These figures are for illustration purposes only and are not to be used in any reporting or research.
For more information regarding datasets or data usage, please contact the PNPTC.